Comic books and women in power — two categories that don’t have a lot of overlap in a Venn diagram — share this in common: They’re both prevalent in the new crop of fall TV shows.
Fall’s freshman class includes not one, not two, but three DC Comics-inspired series with “Arrow” spinoff, “The Flash” (Oct. 7, CW), the Hellblazer adaptation, “Constantine” (Oct. 24, NBC), and the best of the bunch, Fox’s gritty Batman prequel, “Gotham” (Sept. 22).
A female judge, U.S. secretary of state, big-shot law school professor and top-tier CIA analyst are some of the strong women at the center of rookie TV series, which also feature a fair amount of crime-fighters with a pair of X chromosomes to go along with those handcuffs.
Here are 10 of the most promising new shows debuting this fall:
“Red Band Society” (Sept. 17)
Picture “The Breakfast Club” set in the children’s ward of a Los Angeles hospital — and narrated by a young boy in a coma. I know: It sounds like a downer. But this coming-of-age dramedy doesn’t wallow in the sick-kid syndrome, focusing instead on this diverse group of patients’ interpersonal dynamics. Think “Glee,” minus the singing. Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer plays a no-nonsense nurse dispensing a daily dose of tough love, while Glencoe native Zoe Levin (“The Way Way Back”) shines as a mean-girl cheerleader needing to fix her bad heart, both literally and figuratively. 8 p.m. Wednesdays on WFLD-Channel 32
“Gotham” (Sept. 22)
This atmospheric Batman prequel unfolds in violent Gotham City, where up-and-coming Det. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland”) befriends a very young Bruce Wayne. The series follows Gordon’s rise to power — along with some of DC Comics’ iconic villains, such as Catwoman (more of a kitten at this point in time), the Riddler and the scene-stealing Penguin (Robin Taylor, “The Walking Dead”). Jada Pinkett Smith is a welcome newcomer to this entertaining band of lawbreakers as nightclub owner Fish Mooney. 7 p.m. Mondays on WFLD-Channel 32
“How to Get Away With Murder” (Sept. 25)
Viola Davis plays a tough-as-nails law school professor whose eager-beaver students get caught up in a murder plot in this fast-paced legal thriller produced by south suburban native Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”). The pilot’s rapid-fire speed and plot twists make for a hard-to-follow premiere. If the show can settle down and finds its rhythm, it could be a fun follow-up to “Scandal,” airing right before it. If not, this Shondaland ride could fly off the rails. 9 p.m. Thursdays on WLS-Channel 9
“Transparent” (Sept. 26)
Family secrets start to spill when the adult children of patriarch Mort Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor, “Arrested Development”) find out Mort is actually Maura, a transgender reveal that sets everyone on a journey of self-discovery. Annoyance Theatre alum Jill Soloway (“Six Feet Under”) created, wrote and directed this provocative, dark comedy co-starring Chicago actress Amy Landecker (“Louie”). All 10 episodes available Sept. 26 on Amazon Prime Instant Video
“Gracepoint” (Oct. 2)
Fans of BBC America’s engrossing murder mystery/study-in-grief series “Broadchurch” shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a pass on the U.S. remake, whose first two episodes read like replicas of the British original — right down to the familiar face of David Tennant (“Doctor Who”), who played one half of the pair of mismatched detectives in the first version, too. Fortunately for Fox, a lot of people missed out on “Broadchurch.” That sizeable contingent is in for a compelling, 10-episode-long whodunit set in a small town in California. Chicago native Michael Pena stars, along with Northwestern alum and “Breaking Bad” Emmy winner Anna Gunn. 8 p.m. Thursdays on WFLD-Channel 32
“Survivor’s Remorse” (Oct. 4)
Raunchy, LOL funny and occasionally poignant, this comedy produced by Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James centers on basketball phenom Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher, “Level Up”) who’s suddenly rich and famous after inking a multi-million dollar deal that takes him to Atlanta. Plenty of hangers-on want to come along for the ride. Cousin/manager Ronreaco Lee (“Glory,” “Let’s Stay Together”) tries to fend off the freeloaders and keep Cam from becoming a cautionary tale on ESPN’s “30 for 30.” 8 p.m. Saturdays on Starz
“The Affair” (Oct. 12)
A seemingly happily married author (Dominic West, “The Wire”) takes up with a wedded waitress in the Hamptons (Ruth Wilson, “Luther”) in this psychological drama that explores two very different marriages and the effect of infidelity. The most intriguing aspect is the “Rashomon”-style storytelling from both the male and female perspective — an alternating POV that keeps viewers guessing as to what is the truth and where their allegiances should lie. 9 p.m. Sundays on Showtime
“Jane the Virgin” (Oct. 13)
Chicago-raised actress Gina Rodriguez — hailed as Hollywood’s new It Girl — stars as the titular character in this charming dramedy based on a Venezuelan telenovela. Jane is a hard-working, Latina-American college student who’s always trying to do the right thing, even if that means saving herself until marriage, a promise she made to her old-school, Spanish-speaking grandma. Jane’s life plans get thrown for a loop when the virgin discovers she’s preggers thanks to a medical mix up. 8 p.m. Mondays on WGN-Channel 9
“Marry Me” (Oct. 14)
Broadcast TV’s funniest freshman sitcom comes from New Trier High School grad David Caspe of “Happy Endings” fame. It’s your typical rom-com taken to a higher level thanks to witty dialogue brought to life by Ken Marino (“Childrens Hospital,” “Burning Love”) and Caspe’s actual wife, Casey Wilson (“Happy Endings”) — a modern day Lucille Ball and master of physical comedy. Like Caspe’s other show, this one is set but not filmed in his beloved Chicago. 8 p.m. Tuesdays on WMAQ-Channel 5
“The Missing” (Nov. 15)
A 5-year-old boy disappears during a family vacation in France, setting his father (James Nesbitt, “The Hobbit”) on an obsessive manhunt and driving a painful wedge between his parents. The riveting-but-relentlessly-bleak mystery unfolds over two timeframes: present day and 2006, when the boy vanished. Frances O’Connor (“Mr. Selfridge”) plays the long-suffering mother who’s trying — and failing — to fully move on. 8 p.m. Saturdays on Starz